On a recent trip to research insect populations, I visited a small sliver of the Chihuahua desert that runs through the extreme southeast corner of Arizona, I encountered hundreds of eager hover flies. I say eager, because the flies followed and buzzed around me relentlessly. While I couldn’t identify any single individual fly, I am certain that a few of them followed me for more than half a mile as I trekked through the dry, rock strewn, dusty desert. I am not a dancer, but all of the swatting, arm waving, and stumbling probably made me look like I move like Mic Jagger. Relief came when wind from an approaching thunderstorm forced the flies to land or be blown away. Continue reading Are Insect Populations Declining?
Another species of marine mammal is on the verge of extinction. The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a small porpoise endemic to the northern Gulf of Mexico, is reportedly just 30 individuals away from being lost forever. The name vaquita is Spanish for “little cow,” and it looks somewhat like a panda mixed with a dolphin. Because individuals suffer high mortality when trapped in illegal gill nets used by fishermen, the vaquita populations have plummeted since 1997. Mexico has spent millions trying to stop the illegal practice of using gill nets, but to date has not been able to prevent it completely. Continue reading Vaquita: The World’s Rarest Marine Mammal Is In Trouble
In 1939, nearly 77 years ago, the Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was declared extinct. At the time, it was United States’ only known native parrot. The cause for its extinction is not certain, but is frequently reported to be the result of deforestation. Some experts, however, believe deforestation and hunting may have reduced the populations sufficiently to allow other factors, such as disease, to be the proximate cause of extinction. Continue reading Monk Parakeet Populations Growing